John Banville discusses his book Mrs. Osmond at Politics and Prose on 11/13/17.
Banville’s latest novel is a literary paean from one master to another. Née Isabel Archer, Banville’s Mrs. Osmond is the unforgettable heroine of Henry James’s The Portrait of a Lady. James left her at her cousin’s deathbed in England, on the verge of returning to Italy and her unhappy marriage to Gilbert Osmond. In Banville’s continuation of her story, Isabel does go back to Italy, but not right away, and not alone. Learning to nurture a newly found sense of freedom, Banville’s Isabel visits old friends, including the staunchly independent Henrietta Stackpole, as she gauges how far she can go in pursuit of her own happiness. Writing with his signature elegance, wit, and a touch of dark humor, Banville, author of the Man Booker Award-winning The Sea, gives us both an ingenious reading of the deeper currents of Isabel’s character and a compelling historical novel.